Worse Is Better
Author: Steve Bell
Life has been really busy for The Living End.
They’ve been plugging away overseas pushing their second album Roll On to an ever-expanding audience, and now they’re returning to play a headlining tour of Australian capitals. And there’s no respite in sight for the hard-working three-piece – they’re straight back to the States after these shows to hit the road supporting Green Day, followed by some Warped shows and then festivals in Japan and Europe.
But as affable frontman Chris Cheney explains, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Up until now, it’s been really hectic – or it’s felt really hectic – and I think it’s about to get worse, in a sense. I guess worse is better in a way, if you know what I mean. We’re pretty run off our feet.
“But it’s all good stuff. We’ve kind of been just in America up until now, which has been really fun, but we’re really looking forward to going back to Japan and Europe and stuff. We’re playing the Reading and Leeds festivals, which will be good, but I think the Australian tour should be fantastic because we haven’t played here for a while and it being our home crowds and everything. I mean AC/DC was the last thing, but that wasn’t our show.”
While Australia remains the band’s main priority, they’re excited about the prospect of building their profile even further on foreign shores, especially in America where over the years very few Australian bands have been able to replicate their local successes. The fact that they’ve already toured there extensively means that this time the band can knuckle down to the task at hand without the aura and mystique that accompanies first visits to foreign stages.
“I think the shine has been taken off a little bit,” Cheney agrees. “I think the first time you go over there is so exciting and the first couple of shows you played are just like when you’re starting out here, I suppose. There’s a certain kind of innocence or something and being really nervous about playing in a different country. Now there’s a different kind of thing, you know: ‘Are people going to turn up to the show tonight?’. Back then, we knew people weren’t going to turn up [laughs].
“But now we’re pulling quite a few people over there, more than here, obviously, because of the population. We’re playing pretty big venues so it’s exciting in a different way, it’s more sort of nerve-wracking now.”
The Living End have worked hard for their successes to date, so they’re not going to take their first overseas breakthroughs for granted.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate so far. Whether it gets any bigger or not I don’t know, but it’s certainly looking like the venues and everything like that are going to get better. And people are genuinely taking an interest in the band, fanwise. Without everything else, that’s the fun anyway, getting up there and playing to people who like what you’re doing.
“It’s never been easy since day one with the band. It’s always been a struggle, but in a good way. We’ve always had to fight for what we’ve got. We started off managing the band ourselves and all that. And when you get the rewards you seem to appreciate it more. And it’s the same when we go over there, just getting nervous before you go on, stuff like that. I think after the gig it makes you appreciate it more and it makes you work harder.”
Being on the road does have its advantages. For instance, it lets the band members embrace their main passion – music and other bands.
“Every time we ever get a day off, we either go and see a band or we go and find out where the local music shop is and go look at guitars or just buy CDs,” Cheney laughs. “I’m just a sponge for music; I hope that never dies. It is harder now to listen to music than before the band got anywhere.
“When you start to learn a few chords and learn your way around the guitar, you can’t really listen to music in the same way anymore because you end up trying to dissect it and it drives me nuts. It’s good to step out of that and be a punter. It’s very hard to, I kind of envy sometimes people who don’t play a musical instrument because they take music for what it is and not how it’s constructed.”
One thing that’s been obvious to those who have followed the band for a while is the way they’ve embraced each challenge and subsequent success with a real enthusiasm and passion.
“I understand how people can get sort of jaded in this industry and I never did really understand that until probably writing this last album,” Cheney reflects. “Up until then it was great, I thought so innocently like ‘It’s all about the music and you’ve got to be genuine’ and all the stuff that’s just kind of natural anyway.
“But then you get an insight into the music industry and the way people play with other people’s lives, and you can get very jaded by it and I can understand that now. But you’ve also got to be sort of happy within yourself, I think, and remember why you got into the band in the first place.
“To me, that was sort of to play guitar and write music, so whenever I get a bit kind of ‘How come this band’s on the radio?’ or ‘This is fucked that we’re not as famous as them’ or whatever, stupid things like that, I think ‘God, don’t even think about that’. We’re lucky to be where we are.”
The Living End play Arena this Sunday Jun 10 (over 18s) and Monday Jun 11 (all-ages). Roll On is out now on EMI.